Many people live very stressful lives. They spend a lot of their time dealing with the things around them that have to be done. Some have more complex forms of stress, such as post-traumatic stress and anxiety. Others face challenges with other aspects of health that stress the body. All of this impacts the way the body functions. In some situations, it can impact the way your hair grows. If you have thinning hair or even a significant amount of hair loss, it could be due to the stress you are under.
How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
There are several ways that stress and hair growth are linked. Generally speaking, when the body is under less stress and healthy, it can work to produce hair at a normal, natural rate. However, when there is stress, it alters the way the body’s organs work. This can lead to a very damaging amount of impact on the organs. Here are the three key ways it can also affect hair growth.
Telogen Effluvium Stress Hair Loss
One of the ways stress can impact the way hair grows is through a process called telogen effluvium. In this case, the presence of the stress hormone causes a large number of hair follicles to suddenly move from the growth phase into the resting phase. You may remember that as the phase of the hair growth cycle in which hair pauses growth for a period of time. In this situation, the sudden and significant stress onset causes hair loss. The follicles go into the resting phase long before it should have. Over the next few months, more hair falls out suddenly. You may notice this more when you are washing your hair or brushing it.
This can often happen after situations like a health scare or a large emotional trigger. It can occur in some people due to a big change in their lifestyle, too.
Trichotillomania Stress Related Hair Loss
Another type of incident that stresses the hair follicle is called trichotillomania. In this situation, the person has an urge to pull on their hair. It is an irresistible urge to do so. For some people, this occurs as a result of stressors in their life. Some experience triggers, for example, that encourage them to pull on their hair. The problem is, this also damages the hair follicle. When the hair is pulled out of the body, it can cause significant damage to the follicle itself.
Alopecia Areata Related Stress
Another and often more common cause for hair loss is called alopecia areata. It can occur for various reasons, including stress. Those who have this condition tend to experience times of their lives where larger, circles of hair seem to fall out. For example, you may notice a nickel or even a quarter-sized patch of hair missing on your head. The skin may be exposed and nearly free or completely free of any hair. A key characteristic is a round shape to the patch.
Doctors do not know why this happens in some people or what factors contribute to it. However, it can occur as a result of stress. For example, if an individual is undergoing a significant life change, it may trigger this type of reaction. Because alopecia areata is a form of autoimmune disorder, it requires treatment from your doctor if it continues to occur.
In many situations, these types of stress-related hair loss are treatable. Once the stress has improved, the body’s hormone levels regulate more fully. As a result of this, the hair begins to grow again. However, in some cases, the condition can cause damage to the follicles themselves. When this happens, the hair may not grow back in those areas, resulting in thinner hair. In some situations, it can worsen over time if the stress factors are not dealt with as well. Addressing the stress tends to be the place to start.